The natural beauty of the Grand Canyon can be enjoyed from a list of different vantage points, with overlooks on high, hiking trails spread in-between, and the winding Colorado River below. While some people opt to stay on the upper rims of the Grand Canyon, others find the perspective from below just as rewarding, if not the ultimate compliment to peering in from above. Grand Canyon rafting trips are the perfect way for travelers to add some extra excitement to their Arizona vacation, allowing them to marvel at the rising canyon walls as they drift along the mighty Colorado River.
The Grand Canyon’s layers of exposed geologic strata can be appreciated from basically all vantage points, but there is perhaps no better means by which to observe them than by Grand Canyon rafting. As your group makes its way along the great Colorado River, the canyon’s geological history is on constant nearby display. If you have a good guide, they can help you interpret what the layers of stratification have to say about the canyon’s history. While some may relish in historical side notes while Grand Canyon rafting, others are in it strictly for the thrill. The Colorado River is one of only 3 rivers in the entire world where the usual system of rating the rapids is abandoned for a more comprehensive scale. While most rivers are rated on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 meaning that the rapids in question are impassable, the Colorado River is rated on a scale from 1 to 10. In other words, it’s the real deal.
Most people who plan Grand Canyon rafting trips choose
to come during the summer, but some of the companies encourage
visitors to consider planning Grand Canyon rafting tours
between May and early June, and in September. During
these months, the various rafting companies are less inclined
to be fully booked, meaning there is room for a bit more
flexibility than if you decide to come in the summer.
Any way you slice it, it behooves you to plan your Grand
Canyon rafting adventure as far ahead as possible, especially
in the summer, when waiting lists can be rather long.
More and more, however, the growing number of tour companies
offering Grand Canyon rafting trips means that the myth
of having to book your trip years in advance is becoming
a thing of the past. A short online search of the
Grand Canyon rafting tours that are available will yield
numerous options, whether you are basing your vacation
in Arizona, or are coming from other southwest states,
such as California and Nevada. Sure, you can get
a lot of excitement while gaming in Vegas, but it’s
hard to match the thrilling mayhem of powering your way
through white water rapids in the Grand Canyon.
Imagine a Las
Vegas vacation that features both gambling and Grand
Canyon white water rafting. It might just be
the most riveting one-two vacation punch out there.
Grand Canyon rafting trips are typically comprised of
3 different and distinct opportunities. These include
commercial trips, short noncommercial trips and the extended
self-guided trips, which are awarded by way of a weighted
lottery system. If time is something you don’t
have a lot of during your Grand Canyon trip, you can arrange
a 1 or 2-day Grand Canyon rafting excursion with one of
the commercial tour groups in the area. These 1
to 2-day commercial trips can include just a quick half-day
trip, an extended full-day trip, or the overnight two-day
trip. The half-day trips usually embark from the
town of Page, Arizona, which is located along the Colorado
River near the Utah border. The full-day trips typically involve entering
the water at the western end of the Grand Canyon, on the
Hualapi Indian grounds at Diamond Creek. If you
are looking to make rafting the main activity of your Grand Canyon vacation,
you can also check out the various options for extended
commercial tours, which can last anywhere from 3-18 days.
Any of the overnight trips generally include wonderful Grand Canyon camping at night, where you can stare wide-eyed at the nighttime
stars as you reflect on the day’s adventure.
If you are planning a self-guided, non-commercial Grand
Canyon rafting trip, you will have to apply to the Grand
Canyon River Permits Office for a Noncommercial River
Permit. These noncommercial Grand Canyon rafting
trips typically embark from Diamond Creek and allow for
no more than 16 participants. Permittees are also
required to make arrangements with the Hualapai Tribe
for fees related to crossing their designated land.
Noncommercial Grand Canyon rafting trips can take from
2 to 5 days for the shorter runs, and last anywhere from
12-25 days for the extended runs. The longer 12-25-day
trips are awarded only to those who applied for the weighted
lottery. As for the year 2008, all of the
extended, noncommercial permits have already been rewarded.
The National Park Service can help those who are looking
to get their names into the upcoming lottery, and can
assist visitors with any other concerns. For more
information on Grand Canyon rafting trips, you can check
out the related Grand
Canyon River Rafting and Grand
Canyon Whitewater Rafting articles.